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Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite
When Claudia was four years old, it became clear that she had severe hearing loss. Claudia's condition was caused by the side effect of a medication her mother had taken for nausea during her pregnancy. There weren't many options for people with hearing loss in the mid-1950s. Claudia attended a regular public school in Berkeley, California. Using hearing aids, Claudia learned lipreading to communicate with others. In her school, Claudia faced many challenges. As an outgoing child, she often felt lonely. She couldn't participate in group dialogues, staying outside the group of her schoolmates. Claudia's parents didn't fully understand her struggles. Her mother, a Holocaust survivor, used to tell Claudia to fix her problems herself. Claudia's father, often preoccupied with odd projects to gain money, paid little attention to Claudia and her brother, Elliot. Step by step, Claudia learned how to navigate and flourish in the world of sound. But You Look So Normal by Claudia Marseille is an inspirational and educational read for fans of memoirs and nonfiction.
In But You Look So Normal, Claudia Marseille narrates her incredible story from a historical perspective. Claudia gives us a glimpse into the development of hearing aids, starting from the 1950s to the digital era with its many innovations. The author shares her parents' tragic life stories before and during WWII, which read like a thriller. I appreciated Claudia's account of her trip to Israel and her time on the kibbutz. Claudia profoundly understood the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But You Look So Normal reveals how many difficulties a person with hearing loss faces daily. In childhood, Claudia often couldn't understand TV programs, movies, or even the words of popular songs, which made her an outcast among her peers. It may sound shocking today, but it took Claudia years to finally start telling them or her teachers about her difficulties with hearing. The author's courage at an age when women weren't supposed to stand up for themselves impresses a contemporary reader. Claudia graciously and with a dose of good humor accepted her limitations, like when her little daughter asked her a tricky question. This uplifting book will motivate and empower readers with hearing loss.